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Re: [thefixedstars] Yahoo! News Story - Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to Naked Eye - Yahoo! News

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  • Mark Andrew Holmes
    ... http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080321/sc_space/stellarexplosionismostdistantobjectvisibletonakedeye BLGD. Mark A. Holmes Begin story.-- Stellar Explosion
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 21, 2008
      --- Mark Andrew Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...> wrote:

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      > Mark Andrew Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent
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      > Personal message:
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      > Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to
      > Naked Eye - Yahoo! News
      >
      >
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080321/sc_space/stellarexplosionismostdistantobjectvisibletonakedeye



      BLGD.

      Mark A. Holmes



      Begin story.--


      Stellar Explosion Is Most Distant Object Visible to
      Naked Eye

      SPACE.com staff

      SPACE.com Fri Mar 21, 11:02 AM ET

      A powerful stellar explosion that has shattered the
      record for the most distant object visible to the
      naked eye was detected by NASA's Swift satellite on
      Wednesday.

      The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst, also ranks
      as the most intrinsically bright object in the
      universe ever observed by humans.

      "It's amazing — we've been waiting for a flash this
      bright from a gamma-ray burst ever since Swift began
      observing the sky three years ago, and now we've got
      one that is so bright that it was visible to the naked
      eye even though its source is half-way across the
      universe," said David Burrows of Penn State
      University, who directs the continuing operation of
      Swift's X-ray telescope and the analysis of the data
      it collects.

      Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous explosions in
      the universe since the Big Bang and occur when massive
      stars run out of nuclear fuel. The stars' cores
      collapse to form black holes or neutron stars and
      release an intense burst of high-energy gamma-rays and
      jets of energetic particles.

      The jets rip through space at nearly the speed of
      light, heating the surrounding interstellar gas like
      turbocharged cosmic blowtorches, often generating a
      bright afterglow.

      "These optical flashes from gamma-ray bursts are the
      most extreme such phenomena that we know of," said
      Swift science team member Derek Fox, also of Penn
      State. "If this burst had happened in our galaxy, it
      would have been shining brighter than the Sun for
      almost a minute — sunglasses would definitely be
      advised."

      Penn State astronomer and Swift team member Peter
      Meszaros said an unusual combination of circumstances
      may have made the burst's afterglow so exceptionally
      bright in the visible wavelengths of light.

      "When the jet that formed during the explosion of the
      star slammed into the surrounding gas clouds, shock
      waves were generated that heated the jet," he
      explained. "The exceptional brightness of this burst
      requires the jet to have just the right combination of
      magnetic fields and velocity, which occurs very
      rarely."

      Astronomers don't know for sure what made the burst,
      dubbed GRB 080319B, so bright, but further analysis of
      the event is under way. The burst could possibly have
      been more energetic than others, or the burst's energy
      may have been concentrated in a jet aimed directly at
      Earth.

      The afterglow of GRB 080319B was 2.5 million times
      more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever
      recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright
      object ever recorded.

      Astronomers have placed the star in the constellation
      Bo�tes. They have estimated it to be 7.5
      billion light years away from Earth, meaning the
      explosion took place when the universe was less than
      half its current age and before Earth formed.

      The most distant previous object that could be seen by
      the naked eye is the galaxy M33, a relatively short
      2.9 million light-years from Earth.

      The burst was detected by Swift at 2:12 EDT on March
      19 and was one of five gamma-ray bursts detected that
      day, the same day that famed science fiction writer
      Arthur C. Clarke died.

      "Coincidentally, the passing of Arthur C. Clarke seems
      to have set the universe ablaze with gamma-ray
      bursts," said Swift science team member Judith
      Racusin, a Penn State graduate student.




      --End story.


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